The United Nations General Assembly designated October 13th as the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (previously known as World Disaster Reduction Day), as a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Renamed as the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), it’s main aim is to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster-resilient communities and nations. 

Based on the Sendai Framework, a voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State or the government has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, but also advises that the responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders to reduce global disaster and encourage sustainability. With the theme for 2019 announced as the Reduction of disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, investment into the health and education services and facilities has become quite evident. Data shows that in 2018 about 282 disasters were reported of which 109 were floods leading to a total estimate of 10,809 deaths globally last year costing about USD 107.7 billion. 

This Image was shot July 31, 2011 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Water clogged streets as a result of flooding due to very heavy rains

As per Our World In Data, India in 2017 reported about anywhere between 1 million to 3 million people displaced internally as a result of both human-made and natural disasters, floods have become more common than before. With almost all of India flood-prone, and extreme precipitation events, such as flash floods and torrential rains, climate change paired with rapid warming of the Indian Ocean has made extreme rainfall events intermittent. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has recognised that over that last 20 years India has suffered an economic loss of USD 80 Billion, making disaster control one of the priorities this coming year.

The government of India has taken some significant steps to advance disaster risk management.

For example in 2010, India with the financial support of World Bank built risk mitigation infrastructure, including 270 multi-purpose Cyclone shelters for nearly 280,000 people living in vulnerable coastal areas and enhancing institutional capacity and financial mechanism to manage the impact of natural disasters. Similarly, there is a certain level of impact natural disaster has on the tourism industry.

Natural disasters tend to lead to considerable infrastructural damage which can impede the recovery of tourism in certain areas of the country. Like the 2013 flash floods that hit Uttarakhand, causing damage in the valleys that led to the Kedarnath shrine and the temple itself or the 2005 Mumbai floods that nearly killed about 5000 people, flooding the city for days causing substantial damage to infrastructure redirecting tourism around other parts of the country.

Concrete ruins of a house damaged by tsunami on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka

But there is also the category of disaster tourism that has led the rise of tourism at diaster prone locations. Even though seen as either an explosive or educative experience, tourist sites affected by natural disaster need to handled in a manner of respect and should be motivated by the need to aid damage recovery and reducing empathy. It could lead to the reduction of reconstruction, causing disincentive behaviour to grow in the reconstruction sites embedding a more exploitative attitude. Thus making it important for local communities and nations to be disaster-resistant (beyond just on World Disaster Reduction Day) and invest further into enabling the protection of infrastructure especially focused on disruption to basic survival services.

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